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Bernbach quotes


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Bill Bernbach quotes, DDB

Published in: Business, Technology

Bernbach quotes

  1. 1. We felt that the only way to share some of Bill’s ideas with you would be to let himspeak for himself.“Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula.”“You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it insuch a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing willhappen.”“Properly practiced creativity Must result in greater sales more economically achieved.Properly practiced creativity can lift your claims out of the swamp of sameness and makethem accepted, believed, persuasive, urgent.”“If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic.”“Is creativity some obscure, esoteric art form? Not on your life. It’s the most practical thinga businessman can employ.”“There is no such thing as a good or bad ad in isolation. What is good at one moment isbad at another. Research can trap you into the past.”“You can turn a page and, before you really comprehend it, there’s a feeling. There’s avibration. If it’s the wrong vibration for what you want to convey, what follows is going tofight it-an uphill battle against the original impression you made.”“The magic is in the product.”“It’s not just what you say that stirs people. It’s the way that you say it.”“Merely to let your imagination run riot, to dream unrelated dreams, to indulge in graphicacrobatics and verbal gymnastics in NOT being creative. The creative person hadharnessed his imagination. He has disciplined it so that every thought, every idea, everyword he puts down, every line he draws, every light and shadow in every photograph hetakes, makes more vivid, more believable, more persuasive the original theme or productadvantage he has decided he must convey.”
  2. 2. “Surely it is better to state our proposition with the kind of talent that will touch and move thereader and viewer than to bore them to death with the ordinary.”“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”“You can get attention and really make people resent you if you do it with an unrelatedgimmick. They won’t like you for that.”“You can have everybody coming in on time, everybody leaving on time, all work finished onthe due date, and still have a lousy ad, and fail.”“I can put down on a page a picture of a man crying, and it’s just a picture of a man crying.Or I can put him down in such a way as to make you want to cry. The difference is artistry-the intangible thing that business distrusts.”“It is one thing to have a selling proposition and quite another to sell it.”“Properly practiced creativity can make one ad do the work of ten.”“It’s that creative spark that I’m so jealous of for our agency and that I’m so desperatelyfearful of losing. I don’t want academicians. I don’t want people who do the right things. Iwant people who do inspiring things.”“Technique for its own sake can be disastrous. Because, after a while, you’re so anxious todo things differently, and do them better and funnier and more brilliantly than the next guy,that becomes the goal of the ad, instead of the selling of the merchandise.”“Imitation can be commercial suicide.”“Just because your ad looks good is no insurance that it will get looked at. How manypeople do you know who are impeccably groomed ... but dull?”“We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it. We are so busylistening to statistics we forget we can create them.”“Today’s smartest advertising style is tomorrow’s corn.”“Be provocative. But be sure your provocativeness stems from your product. You are NOTright if in your ad you stand a man on his head JUST to get attention. You ARE right if youhave him on his head to show how your product keeps things from falling out of hispockets.”
  3. 3. “We don’t do just snob ads, we don’t do just short copy ads, or just long copy ads, or anyparticular style. If you want to know what makes DDB ads, it is a fresh and original idea thatconveys the advantage of the product memorably. We have no formula.”“I warn you against believing that advertising is a science.”“I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to choose the plain looking ad that is alive and vital andmeaningful, over the ad that is beautiful but dumb.”“Our job is to sell our clients’ merchandise ... not ourselves. Our job is to kill the clevernessthat makes us shine instead of the product. Our job is to simplify, to tear away theunrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message.”“Know your product inside and out before you start working. And relate that knowledge tothe consumer’s needs.”“No matter how skillful you are, you can’t invent a product advantage that doesn’t exist. Andif you do, and it’s just a gimmick, it’s going to fall apart anyway.”“There will be a time when no headline is proper; there will be a time when a headline isproper. There will be a time when a logo is good and there will be a time when using a logois the worst thing in the world you can do.”“Our job is to bring the dead facts to life.”“A great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to knowit’s bad.”“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’tknow what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you,and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless yousay things imaginatively, originally, freshly.”“Forget words like ‘hard sell’ and ‘soft sell.’ That will only confuse you. Just be sure youradvertising is saying something with substance, something that will inform and serve theconsumer, and be sure you’re saying it like it’s never been said before.”“Adapt your techniques to an idea, not an idea to your techniques.”“Playing it safe can be the most dangerous thing in the world, because you’re presentingpeople with an idea they’ve seen before, and you won’t have impact.”
  4. 4. “Advertising doesn’t create a product advantage. It can only convey it.”“The difference between the forget-table and the enduring is artistry.”“You’ve got to live with your product. You’ve got to get steeped in it. You’ve got to getsaturated with it. You must get to the heart of it. Indeed, if you have not crystallized into asingle purpose, a single theme, what you want to tell the reader, you CANNOT be creative.”“There are two attitudes you can wear: that of cold arithmetic or that of warm, humanpersuasion. I will urge the latter on you. For there is evidence that in the field ofcommunications the more intellectual you grow, the more you lose the great intuitive skillsthat make for the greater persuasion-the things that really touch and move people.”“Execution becomes content in a work of genius.”“Can you really judge an idea from a storyboard? How do you storyboard a smile?”“A dull truth will not be looked at. An exciting lie will. That is what good, sincere peoplemust understand. They must make their truth exciting and new, or their good works will beborn dead.”“Don’t confuse good taste with the absence of taste.”“At the heart of an effective creative philosophy is the belief that nothing is so powerful as aninsight into human nature, what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate hisaction, even though his language so often camouflages what really motivates him.”“There is practically nothing that is not capable of boring us.”“In communications, familiarity breeds apathy.”“It is insight into human nature that is the key to the communicator’s skill. For whereas thewriter is concerned with what he puts into his writings, the communicator is concerned withwhat the reader gets out of it. He therefore becomes a student of how people read orlisten.”“There are few things more destructive than an unsound idea persuasively expressed.”“To succeed an ad (or a person or product for that matter) must establish its own uniquepersonality, or it will never be noticed.”
  5. 5. “To keep your ads fresh you’ve got to keep yourself fresh. Live in the current idiom and youwill create in it. If you follow and enjoy and are excited by the new trails in art, in writing, inindustry, in personal relationships ... whatever you do will naturally be of today.”“It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them toeven vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must beconcerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, tosucceed, to love, to take care of his own.”“Word of mouth is the best medium of all.”“Find new symbols, even though in time those symbols will grow old and die. The mostfreshly sculptured phrase will eventually become a cliché.”“With our industry being watched so carefully by governmental agencies, with the FTCready to pounce on every claim we make, what we CAN say in our ads is forever narrowingand the sharpest tool left for us is HOW we say it.”“Finding out what to say is the beginning of the communication process. How you say itmakes people look and listen and believe. And if you are not successful at that you havewasted all the work and intelligence and skill that went into discovering what you shouldsay.”“Dullness won’t sell your product, but neither will irrelevant brilliance.”“An idea can turn to dust or magic depending on the talent that rubs against it.”“You’ve got to believe in your product ... you’ve got to believe in your work. Only a deepbelief will generate the vitality and energy that give life to your work.”“You cannot sell a man who isn’t listening.”“Getting a product known isn’t the answer. Getting it WANTED is the answer. Some of thebest known product names have failed.”“Maybe we’re getting bogged down in too much detail. Maybe our advertising ideas arebeing ground up in that multi-level American efficiency machine.”“It’s not how short you make it; it’s how you make it short.”“The great mistakes are made when we feel we are beyond questioning.”
  6. 6. “Today, everybody is talking ‘Creativity,’ and frankly, that’s got me worried. I fear lest wekeep the good taste and lose the sell. I fear all the sins we may commit in the name of‘Creativity.’ I fear that we may be entering an age of phonies.”“Logic and overanalysis can immobilize and sterilize an idea. It’s like love-the more youanalyze it the faster it disappears.”“A unique selling proposition is no longer enough. Without a unique selling talent it maydie.”“Because an appeal makes logical sense is no guarantee that it will work.”“Working from a method or a formula is guaranteed to do the same thing to theeffectiveness of an idea that time does to a loaf of bread. Ideas must be hot out of the ovenif they are to arouse the appetite. That is why, in communications, imitation is commercialsuicide.”“The fragile structure of logic fades and disappears against the emotional onslaught ofhushed tone, a dramatic pause, and the soaring excitement of a verbal crescendo.”“Knowledge is ultimately available to everyone. Only true intuition, jumping from knowledgeto an idea, is yours and yours alone.”“An important idea not communicated persuasively is like having no idea at all.”“It is ironic that the very thing that is most suspect by business, that intangible thing calledartistry, turns out to be the most practical tool available to it. For it is only an original talentthat can vie with all the shocking news events and violence in the world for the attention ofthe consumer.”“The men who are going to be in business tomorrow are the men who understand that thefuture, as always, belongs to the brave.”“In this very real world, good doesn’t drive out evil. Evil doesn’t drive out good. But theenergetic displaces the passive.”“We don’t ask research to do what it was never meant to do, and that is to get an idea.”“Most readers come away from their reading not with a clear, precise, detailed registration ofits contents on their minds, but rather with a vague, misty idea which was formed as muchby the pace, the proportions, the music of the writings as by the literal words themselves.”
  7. 7. “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We canvulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”“However much we would like advertising to be a science-because life would be simpler thatway-the fact is that it is not. It is a subtle, ever-changing art, defying formularization,flowering on freshness and withering on imitation; where what was effective one day, forthat very reason, will not be effective the next, because it has lost the maximum impact oforiginality.”“More and more I have come to the conclusion that a principle isn’t a principle until it costsyou money.”“The real giants have always been poets, men who jumped from facts into the realm ofimagination and ideas.”“If you stand for something, you will always find some people for you and some against you.If you stand for nothing, you will find nobody against you, and nobody for you.”“When we started our agency, we had in mind precisely the kind of people we wanted withus. There were two requirements: You had to be talented and you had to be nice. If youwere nice but without talent, we were very sorry, but you just wouldn’t do. We had to ‘makeit.’ And only great talent would help us do that. If you were a great talent, but not a niceperson, we had no hesitation in saying ‘No.’ Life is too short to sacrifice so much of it, toliving with a bastard.”“A great talent, sailing in the wrong direction will, like the lost pilot breaking the speedrecord, reach the wrong destination all the more quickly.”“The purpose of advertising is to sell. That is what the client is paying for and if that goaldoes not permeate every idea you get, every word you write, every picture you take, you area phony and you ought to get out of the business.”